Biological research in an orbital environment necessitates the containment of the sample and its associated chemical fixatives. The Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) hardware developed by Kennedy Space Center has been widely used in several configurations to support biological experiments on the Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). The current model of BRIC hardware contains six Petri Dish Fixation Units (PDFUs), each of which holds one Petri plate containing the specimen. This study compares traditional polycarbonate PDFUs to PDFUs primarily composed of aluminum with respect to their biocompatibility with Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) growth and development. Seeds were planted on nutrient agar plates and inserted into either polycarbonate or aluminum PDFUs, which were then secured in the BRIC hardware. Plates were allowed to develop in the PDFUs in the dark for a period of 12 days, after which they were preserved by either RNAlater or glutaraldehyde, harvested, photographed, RNA- extracted, and prepared for gene expression analyses. Direct comparison of the etiolated Arabidopsis seedlings from the polycarbonate and aluminum PDFUs presented no discernible morphological differences, nor were there any significant differences between the expression levels of several target genes chosen for their sensitivity in reporting an aluminum stress response.
Research Containing: Microscopy
SODI-COLLOID: a combination of static and dynamic light scattering on board the International Space Station
Microgravity research in space is a complex activity where the often scarce resources available for the launch, accommodation, and operation of instrumentation call for a careful experiment planning and instrument development. In this paper we describe a module of the Selectable Optical Diagnostic Instrument, that has been designed as a compact optical diagnostic instrument for colloidal physics experiments. The peculiarity of the instrument is the combination of a novel light scattering technique known as near field scattering and standard microscopy with a low-coherence laser light source. We describe its main design features, as well as measurement results on colloidal aggregation taken on the International Space Station.
We studied the growth of metal-ion silicate chemical gardens under Earth gravity (1 g) and microgravity (mug) conditions. Identical sets of reaction chambers from an automated system (the Silicate Garden Habitat or SGHab) were used in both cases. The mug experiment was performed on board the International Space Station (ISS) within a temperature-controlled setup that provided still and video images of the experiment downlinked to the ground. Calcium chloride, manganese chloride, cobalt chloride, and nickel sulfate were used as seed salts in sodium silicate solutions of several concentrations. The formation and growth of osmotic envelopes and microtubes was much slower under mug conditions. In 1 g, buoyancy forces caused tubes to grow upward, whereas a random orientation for tube growth was found under mug conditions.
A biaxial rotating bioreactor for the culture of fetal mesenchymal stem cells for bone tissue engineering
The generation of effective tissue engineered bone grafts requires efficient exchange of nutrients and mechanical stimulus. Bioreactors provide a manner in which this can be achieved. We have recently developed a biaxial rotating bioreactor with efficient fluidics through in-silico modeling. Here we investigated its performance for generation of highly osteogenic bone graft using polycaprolactone-tricalcium phosphate (PCL-TCP) scaffolds seeded with human fetal mesenchymal stem cell (hfMSC). hfMSC scaffolds were cultured in either bioreactor or static cultures, with assessment of cellular viability, proliferation and osteogenic differentiation it) vitro and also after transplantation into immunodeficient mice. Compared to static culture, bioreactor-cultured hfMSC scaffolds reached cellular confluence earlier (day 7 vs. day 28), with greater cellularity (2x, p < 0.01), and maintained high cellular viability in the core, which was 2000 Inn from the surface. In addition, bioreactor culture was associated with greater osteogenic induction, ALP expression (1.5x P < 0.01), calcium deposition (5.5x, p < 0.001) and bony nodule formation on SEM, and in-vivo ectopic bone formation in immunodeficient mice (3.2x, p < 0.001) compared with static-cultured scaffolds. The use of biaxial bioreactor here allowed the maintenance of cellular viability beyond the limits of conventional diffusion, with increased proliferation and osteogenic differentiation both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting its utility for bone tissue engineering applications. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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A discussion of different methods to evaluate dose/response and biological effects of ionizing radiation is given. Confocal scanning laser microscopy (CSLM) is presented as a high performing observation method for evaluating different cytological effects. Standard cytochemical techniques can be used to analyse the cell in situ with minimal disturbance of morphology and structure. If a relatively small number of cells are affected by the treatment, the use of confocal microscope observations is fast and has a better resolution than conventional fluorescence microscopy. The optical sectioning capability of the CSLM makes it possible to analyse stacks of cells on detectors up to a depth of 200 micrometer with a resolution of 0.7 micrometer. This is used to analyse single cell electrophoresis results and nuclear track analysis in poly allyl diglycol carbonate (PADC). Consecutive analysis of cells cultivated on PADC, and analysis of nuclear tracks after chemical etched tracks in the PADC, will make it possible to correlate physical dose with direct cellular effects. This is a promising method for single cell analysis and the study of the effects of ionizing radiation at low particle flux density.
Utilization of the aquatic research facility and fertilization syringe unit to study sea urchin development in space
Methods were developed for the investigation of the effects of microgravity on early development in sea urchins within the Canadian Space Agency's Aquatic Research Facility (ARF). The ARF payload provided light, temperature control, automated fixation capability, and a 1 G on-orbit centrifuge control. Eggs and embryos of either the sea urchin species Lytechinus pictus or Strongylocentrotus purpuratus were loaded into Standard Container Assemblies (SCAs) which comprised the experimental aquaria (33 mL volume) contained within the ARF. A newly developed Fertilization Syringe Unit (FSU) was used to achieve "in-flight" fertilization capability. Fixative solutions were preloaded into fixation blocks maintained adjacent to the SCAs and injected at pre-selected time points, resulting in final (diluted) concentrations of either 0.5% or 2% glutaraldehyde (depending upon embryonic stage). Light, scanning, and transmission electron microscopy determined that all desired embryonic and cell division stages (16-cell stage, blastula, gastrula, and pluteus) were preserved using the experimental protocols and fixation capability provided by the ARF/FSU system.
Formation and differentiation of three-dimensional rat marrow stromal cell culture on microcarriers in a rotating-wall vessel
Using a high aspect ratio vessel (HARV), this study investigated the formation of 3-D rat marrow stromal cell culture on microcarriers and the expression of bone-related biochemical markers under conditions of simulated microgravity. In addition, it calculated the shear stresses imparted on the surface of microcarriers of different densities by the medium fluid in an HARV. Secondary rat marrow stromal cells were cultured on two types of microcarriers, Cytodex-3 beads and modified bioactive glass particles. Examination of cellular morphology by scanning electron microscopy revealed the presence of three-dimensional multicellular aggregates consisting of multiple cell-covered Cytodex-3 microcarriers bridged together. Mineralization was observed in the aggregates. Spherical cell-bead aggregates were observed in an HARV, while cell-bead assemblies were mostly loosely packed in a chainlike or branched structure in a cell bag. The expressions of alkaline phosphatase activity, collagen type I, and osteopontin were shown via the use of histochemical staining, immunolabeling, and confocal scanning electron microscopy. Using a numerical approach, it was found that at a given rotational speed and for a given culture medium, a larger density difference between the microcarrier and the culture medium (e.g., a modified bioactive glass particle) imparted a higher maximum shear stress on the microcarrier.
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Variation in stem morphology and movement of amyloplasts in white spruce grown in the weightless environment of the International Space Station
One-year-old white spruce (Picea glauca) seedlings were studied in microgravity conditions in the International Space Station (ISS) and compared with seedlings grown on Earth. Leaf growth was clearly stimulated in space whereas data suggest a similar trend for the shoots. Needles on the current shoots of ground-based seedlings were more inclined towards the stem base than those of seedlings grown in the ISS. Amyloplasts sedimented in specialized cells of shoots and roots in seedlings grown on Earth while they were distributed at random in similar cells of seedlings tested in the ISS. In shoots, such amyloplasts were found in starch sheath cells located between leaf traces and cortical cells whereas in roots they were constituents of columella cells of the cap. Nuclei were regularly observed just above the sedimented amyloplasts in both organs. It was also frequent to detect vacuoles with phenolic compounds and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) close to the sedimented amyloplasts. The ER was mainly observed just under these amyloplasts. Thus, when amyloplasts sediment, the pressure exerted on the ER, the organelle that can for instance secrete proteins destined for the plasma membrane, might influence their functioning and play a role in signaling pathways involved in gravity-sensing white spruce cells.
A critical step of spermatogenesis is the entry of mitotic spermatogonia into meiosis. Progresses on these topics are hampered by the lack of an in vitro culture system allowing mouse spermatogonia differentiation and entry into meiosis. Previous studies have shown that mouse pachytene spermatocytes cultured in simulated microgravity (SM) undergo a spontaneous meiotic progression. Here we report that mouse mitotic spermatogonia cultured under SM with a rotary cell culture system (RCCS) enter into meiosis in the absence of any added exogenous factor or contact with somatic cells. We found that isolated Kit-positive spermatogonia under the RCCS condition enter into the prophase of the first meiotic division (leptotene stage), as monitored by chromosomal organization of the synaptonemal complex 3 protein (Scp3) and up-regulation of several pro-meiotic genes. SM was found to activate the phosphatidyl inositol 3 kinase (PI3K) pathway and to induce in Kit-positive spermatogonia the last round of DNA replication, typical of the preleptotene stage. A PI3K inhibitor abolished Scp3 induction and meiotic entry stimulated by RCCS conditions. A positive effect of SM on germ cell differentiation was also observed in undifferentiated (Kit-negative) spermatogonia, in which RCCS conditions stimulate the expression of Kit and Stra8. In conclusion, SM is an artificial environmental condition which promotes postnatal male germ cell differentiation and might provide a tool to study the molecular mechanisms underlying the switch from mitosis to meiosis in mammals.
Light and abscisic acid signalling are integrated by MIZ1 gene expression and regulate hydrotropic response in roots of Arabidopsis thaliana
Plant roots undergo tropic growth in response to environmental cues, and each tropic response is affected by several environmental stimuli. Even its importance, molecular regulation of hydrotropism has not been largely uncovered. Tropic responses including hydrotropism were impacted by other environmental signal. We found that hydrotropism was reduced in dark-grown seedling. Moreover, we found that the expression of MIZ1, an essential gene for hydrotropism, was regulated by light signal. From our genetic analysis, phytochrome A (phyA)-, phyB- and HY5-mediated blue-light signalling play curial roles in light-mediated induction of MIZ1 and hydrotropism. In addition, we found that abscisic acid (ABA) also induced MIZ1 expression. ABA treatment could recover weak hydrotropism and MIZ1 expression level of hy5, and ABA synthesis inhibitor, abamineSG, further reduced hydrotropic curvature of hy5. In contrast, ABA treatment did not affect ahydrotropic phenotype of miz1. These results suggest that ABA signalling regulates MIZ1 expression independently from light signalling. Our results demonstrate that environmental signals, such as light and stresses mediated by ABA signalling, are integrated into MIZ1 expression and thus regulate hydrotropism. These machineries will allow plants to acquire sufficient amounts of water.